Manchester United manager David Moyes said his side had committed a “crime” by conceding just 22 seconds after taking the lead against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, as their 18 seasons of unbroken competition in the tournament ended with a 3-1 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Moyes, who admitted that Wayne Rooney had struggled even to kick a ball on a night when he sacrificed two fine goalscoring chances, said that allowing Bayern to equalise so soon after Patrice Evra’s thunderbolt put the team ahead, was “the sort of the thing you learn as a schoolboy that once you score a goal make sure you don't concede and be in your position and do your job.”
His admission that Rooney was so fragile, having insisted on Tuesday that United were doing “nothing wrong” by giving the striker an injection for a broken bone in his toe, will surprise the Football Association but Moyes said United simply could not do without him.
“I was concerned that Wayne had not trained all week and he had taken an injection,” he said. “At times it looked like it was a struggle striking the ball on a couple of occasions. But he is so vital a player to us. He is so important especially with Robin van Persie out just now. He had a couple of opportunities but couldn't quite take them.”
It was the end of a United road for Nemanja Vidic, who will leave for Inter Milan this summer and departed the field in tears on Wednesday night, as well as Patrice Evra, who is likely to go in the summer and also looked emotional as he left the stadium.
Moyes agreed that the quality of the two performances – and particularly the second leg – had demonstrated that his inheritance from Sir Alex Ferguson had not been so poor as had seemed to be the case this season
“I think our team has improved. There have been games when you might say it has not but there have been signs of improvement. I think the word rebuilding is building and a focus on where we want to improve.” He justifiably cited Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as “outstanding” performers as a valiant United denied the Germans a shot on goal for the first 45 minutes. “They were terrific,” Moyes said. “Shinji Kagawa played very well. There were a lot of positives.”
But the defence let United down in the final reckoning. “The only crime was conceding a goal after we had scored within 30 seconds,” the manager said. “That was the biggest crime. We had to play against the holders of the competition and for long periods we made it difficult for them. In the end we just couldn't quite keep it going.
“Possibly [we were caught out by the euphoria of the goal] but I do also think that I have a team full of experienced players. We had concentrated so fabulously well throughout the game. The players had done tactically well. The positioning and their jobs but for us to give it up, or rather the goal, at that moment was really disappointing.”
Rooney’s two squandered chances – one in the first half, another at 1-1 - followed Danny Welbeck’s good opportunity in the first leg, leaving Moyes to rue that aspect of his team’s display. “We have to be fair Munich are a good team and we had to defend really well,” Moyes said. “But we did create opportunities to score, probably more so than we did even in the first game. I am disappointed we didn't take those chances. We had three or four good opportunities but in the end we just couldn't quite get it.”
United’s Michael Carrick declared that it was “not good enough” to be out of the Champions League next season, though vowed that the club would be back.
He said: “We’re bitterly disappointed,” he said. “This [competition] is where we want to be and we will be again in the not too distant future. Losing that first goal after just 20 odd seconds after scoring was a big blow. They had so much possession around the box. All it takes is for something to drop to them. And it did.
“Their second goal was a bit of a killer. The reason we are not [in next season’s competition] is not about tonight. We have had too many bad results. We need to finish the season as best we can and get ready for next season and come back believing we can win the title and qualify for the Champions League next season."
Bayern’s Arjen Robben said: “The first half was a disaster. We played so slow. The goal was a wake-up call and it was very important we scored [again] straight after.”
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